We live in, "a culture of fear", fuelled by politicians, social policy and the media. These are just some of the findings to emerge from, In The Face Fear, a report published by the Mental Health Foundation, a UK charity. Of the 2,200 adults polled, 77 per cent saw the world as a more frightening place than 10 years ago. Government figures also show that nearly a million more people suffer anxiety relate disorders than in 1993. This brings the figure to around seven million people in Britain.
The global economic downturn and financial concerns have resulted in some sleepless nights. Around 66 per cent of people are fearful about the current economic situation and 49 per cent are worried about money. Rising fear levels in the UK are argued to hinder efforts to escape the economic crisis. Emotion is overriding logical thinking so people are, "too afraid to lend, spend and invest, despite the fact that these actions could assist in ending the recession," the report states.
A diet of health scares, 24-hour news, terrorist threats, warnings by various pressure groups and politicians and measures designed to tackle crime are all argued to fuel anxiety. Britain is estimated to have 4.2 million security cameras, more than the whole of Europe. Such visible signs are constant reminders to people about security and the need for vigilance, despite the fact that crime rates have fallen over the past decade. The report also criticizes the use of "catastrophic" and "worst-case-scenario" language favored by many politicians.
Londoners are nearly twice as likely to be anxious than other parts of the country. Younger people report fear more often than older people and women appear more than twice more likely to experience anxiety than men. Anxiety UK, a leading anxiety disorders charity, states that the number of calls it received via a helpline, doubled in the first two months of this year.
Dr. Andrew McCulloch, chief executive of the Mental Health Foundation, is urging the Government to reduce what he calls, "institutionally-driven" fear. "The more fearful people feel in the general population, the more people will be tipped into diagnosable anxiety disorders. The modern world will test our resilience again and again, and people need to know how to process their emotions better to prevent harm to their mental and physical health," he stated.
Professor Frank Furedi, a Sociologist at the University of Kent, said the Mental Health Foundation campaign risked becoming a "self-fulfilling prophecy" by making people even more anxious. In a BBC news website report, professor Furedi is quoted as saying, "Their bottom line is always that people are not coping and that becomes the message that people take away - they lose faith in themselves. Ironically, it may be the current common thread of economic meltdown which in fact brings us together."
Published On: April 17, 2009